There are so many priorities when you are working within a startup, not to mention the fact that you are significantly under-resourced and expected to wear a number of hats. With so many balls in the air and exciting opportunities, you might find that sitting down to write a business plan might seem quite mundane and old-hat – you are a startup entrepreneur after all! The truth is, a business plan can only serve you well and should be viewed as the tool that gets you where you need to be. So if you have rescheduled another meeting to discuss your business plan, here is why that is not a smart move and should be a priority.
It’s the first thing an investor will want to see
Did that get your attention? If you’re not writing a business plan your business, do it for your future investors. No businessman or woman in their right mind is going to invest in your startup if you do not have a business plan that shows who you are, where you are headed, and why you have reason to believe this startup has legs. Being able to articulate your core function and why you are different in the market is of incredible value, and an investor wants to see that you have a one, three, five and ten-year plan that is going to put their investment to good use and see a healthy return.
It will guide your team and partners
As an exercise, I want you to ask your team members and partners to give an elevator pitch of your business. If you do not have a business plan, I can guarantee that everyone will spout a slightly different spiel to their neighbour. How could they not? The vision and trajectory they are working towards is something that has been communicated first or second hand, with no official document there to be referred to and give them guidance in their efforts. If you have a team that you are particularly proud of, leverage their skills and have them design the business plan with you. They are going to be so much more engaged if they are involved in the creation of this critical tool. From there, walk your business plan through in a meeting with your remaining staff and be sure to field questions and satisfy any concerns. This will truly be the greatest investment of your time.
How else will you measure and communicate your success?
While a business plan is a great tool to plan the future, it’s also a fantastic yardstick to measure the past. Don’t you want to look back in a year and be able to see how you have worked towards your core mission, and alter some of the business plan elements to reflect the new status of a working project? Every startup has to prove their worth, whether it is to attract talent, investors, clients or press. This business plan will allow you to have a measurable outcome that you can communicate to the public and wear proudly. You also want to be thinking of the content you push out on your website, social media and LinkedIn, and saying ‘in the first year we achieved our goal of X’ as opposed to something generic that doesn’t really signify your success.
If you can’t find the time to sit down and write a business plan, something will have to give. Invest this valuable time into your business plan for the sake of your startup, and watch how this simple tool will radicalise your business and lead to growth and potential.